Episode Zero -Encounter- Chapter 3

This is the second chapter of Part One: Encounter of Episode Zero -Promise- written by Jun Eishima.
The translation below is by Lissar. Because official romanizations of the names have not yet been released, they might be off.

She had tried not to look like she was in a bad mood, though she was worried that it didn’t work. When she had returned home late last night, she didn’t really talk much with Serah. I’m tired, she said, and shut herself in her room. She didn’t want to say anything she might regret. Lightning thought if she opened her mouth she would start yelling at Serah to break up with that guy. She didn’t want to tell Serah she was against it. She knew her sister’s temperament better than anyone. Though she seems to be gentle and weak, on the inside she is tough. If Lightning told her that she was against it just because she didn’t like him, Serah would try to change Lightning’s mind and keep arguing about it until she did. She didn’t want to have to go through that.
Lightning sighed, and cleaned the tray she used for breakfast. On days she has to leave early they would eat breakfast together, but on days like today when she had to leave later she ate alone. When Lightning got up Serah had already left. Even so, she had already prepared breakfast. Lightning’s work schedule was always changing, and she’d always had to leave quickly.
Their father died early, and when their mother was alive she had to work. So Lightning’s experience with housework was far longer than Serah’s. Serah, however, was a far better cook than Lightning.
“Serah’s just better at choosing delicious food.”
“Mm-hmm, and I’m a better cook too.” She remembered the conversations she would have with her mother and Serah. She was always happy and smiling. But then their mother fell ill.
It was just before she died. After school Lightning went with Serah to their mother’s hospital. Serah kept trying to run, but Lightning held onto her hand, saying “Don’t run, it’s dangerous.” over and over. If it was like always, she would have just been saying that, while trying to run herself. But today was different.
Yesterday, when she had arrived home from school, the doctor had contacted her, telling her that her mother had worsened. The next time she goes into a fit could be dangerous, he said.
There were no other family to tell. So the doctor had no choice but to tell the fifteen year old Lightning the details of her mother’s illness. If anything happens, he said, there is a social services person I can introduce you to. He told her many places she could go to get help. There are programs so that children without guardians can live freely. You don’t have to worry. You only have to think about yourself and your sister. That’s what the doctor said.
But, with his words Lightning realized that she’d have to take all responsibility now. Did it show in her face? she wondered. Looking back she felt her mother knew what she was thinking.
“I’m feeling good today. Yes, I think I want to eat some fruit. Serah, would you go and buy some for me?”
“I’ll go.” Lightning said, standing. But her mother smiled.
“Serah’s better at choosing delicious food.”
“Mm-hmm, and I’m a better cook too.” Serah said, proud of herself. She left the sick room.
“There will be a lot of things you’ll have to do now, not just cooking.” Her mother said. Serah’s footsteps faded into the distance. Lightning’s mother smiled at her. Yes, she understands, Lightning thought. That’s why she asked Serah for the fruit. Now she’ll talk more about what I’ll have to do. But, she didn’t.
“But you know, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. There are a lot of things Serah can help you with too.”
“But, mom…” She couldn’t say anything else. Her mother stretched out her hand, and held Lightning close. She stroked her hair like a small child. Lightning felt like she would cry.
“Cute little spoiled girl. We used to call you that, before Serah was born.”
“I don’t remember that…”
“Once Serah was born, you became an older sister. You were only three. Both me and your father no longer could call you our spoiled girl.” Her mother’s voice was laughing, but Lightning could hear the pain in it. The hand stroking her hair was so thin.
“After your father died, you always helped me, didn’t you. You always watched over Serah. You’re such a good big sister. That’s why I’m not worried about Serah. Because you’ll be there for her.” Her mother continued, “But Serah will be there for you too. She will help you when it hurts, she will give you strength. Don’t forget that.” And then her mother said, once more, in a small voice, “My little spoiled girl”…..
The condition of her illness changed quickly after that. She had already prepared herself for it, so she accepted it without a word. That day, the moment she was held by her mother like a small child, her childhood was over. She no longer had anyone she could call mother. So she was no longer a child. Could no longer be a child.
“You don’t have to do it all yourself.” Her mother had said that. But the only one who could protect Serah was her. Of course, she realized, I have to do it all myself.
I want to be an adult. She felt it keenly. To protect Serah, to make my only little sister happy, I have to become an adult as fast as I can. If I can’t be an adult by law, I will have to get rid of the name my parent’s gave me and make myself an adult. It’s okay right, if I’m no longer my mother’s daughter. In exchange I will be Serah’s guardian. I will protect her. She made a vow in front of her mother’s grave. She took herself a new name, Lightning.

At the sound of her holster failing she came back to herself. She hadn’t even realized, but she had already gotten dressed. She smiled humorlessly. It wasn’t even time to leave yet.
But she had woken up earlier than she’d planned. Probably because of what happened yesterday, she wasn’t able to sleep very well. Understandable, she said to herself for the millionth time, and sighed. It just had to be that guy. She wasn’t the type of over protective sister that would want to chase away all the guys who talked to her little sister. She wanted someone who would make Serah happy. She wanted someone who would protect her. She wouldn’t let anyone who couldn’t do that near her. He didn’t have to be a smooth talker or have anything good about him you could see. He just had treat her well, and be willing to protect her.
But that man could never protect her, Lightning thought. He’s just some guy playing king of the mountain. At the first sign of trouble he’d abandon Serah and run. If she let Serah cool her head a bit she’d come to understand. A straight A high school student and some worthless unemployed man could never work out.
If mother was alive, could we stop Serah together?
No, probably not. Lightning’s shoulders drooped. Father was sort of a dangerous type himself. He was easy-going and good-natured, but he wasn’t very reliable. Now that I’m an adult I understand that, Lightning thought. Of course, when I was a child I loved my father. In my memory he was always bright and laughing. But, if he had lived longer would I have been critical of his easy-going nature? I probably would have rebelled against him.
Mother chose father anyway. She probably would have been soft for someone like Snow. She probably would have said, “If it’s the person Serah loves…” and just accepted it.
So it’s up to me to protect Serah from him. I’m not mother, or father. They might have accepted it. But I won’t. Never.
She put on her leather gloves, and opened the door of her room. She decided to leave early today.

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